U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Nearly Unchanged At Pandemic-Era Low

States Where the Most People Are Vaccinated

As the U.S. braces for winter and flu season, the national COVID-19 vaccination effort is as urgent as it ever has been. So far, an estimated 195,973,992 Americans have been fully vaccinated, or 59.9% of the population.

Some states are proving more effective than others in getting their residents vaccinated. Depending on the state, the share of the population that has been fully vaccinated ranges from as low as 41.2% all the way up to 72.3%.

Due in large part to vaccine hesitancy and resistance, millions of doses are currently sitting idle under the purview of state governments, yet to be administered. As of Nov. 23, only about 79.6% of the 569,050,700 doses of the vaccine that have been distributed to the 50 states and Washington D.C. have been administered. In one state, only 50.1% of delivered doses have gone into the arms of residents.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread. In total, there have been 14,499 known infections for every 100,000 people nationwide.

U.S. Consumer Sentiment Drops Slightly Less Than Initially Estimated In November

The University of Michigan released a report on Wednesday showing consumer sentiment in the U.S. decreased by slightly less than initially estimated in the month of November.

The report said the consumer sentiment index for November was upwardly revised to 67.4 from the preliminary reading of 66.8. Economists had expected the index to be upwardly revised to 66.9.

Despite the upward revision, the consumer sentiment index was down from 71.7 in October and was still at its lowest level since hitting 63.7 in November of 2011.

“Consumers expressed less optimism in the November 2021 survey than any other time in the past decade about prospects for their own finances as well as for the overall economy,” said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.

He added, “The decline was due to a combination of rapidly escalating inflation combined with the absence of federal policies that would effectively redress the inflationary damage to household budgets.”

One-year inflation expectations inched up to 4.9 percent in November from 4.8 percent in October, while five-year inflation expectations crept up to 3.0 percent from 2.9 percent.

The report also showed the current economic conditions index fell to 73.6 in November from 77.7 in October. The index of consumer expectations also dropped to 63.5 from 67.9.

Oil Prices Slip After Small Crude Inventory Build

Oil prices fell slightly on Thursday after data showed a modest increase in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week ended November 19.

Investors also continued to weigh the impact on prices from a release of crude from strategic petroleum reserves by major consumer nations.

Benchmark Brent crude futures dropped 0.4 percent to $81.92 a barrel, while WTI crude futures were down 0.4 percent at $78.05.

Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed crude stockpiles in the U.S. increased by 1.017 million barrels last week, more than twice the expected increase.

The OPEC+ JMMC meets on November 30th and the full meeting occurs on 2 December, with investors waiting see whether members will consider a change of course at the meeting in response to the Biden-led SPR release from across the globe.

According to media reports, top oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia are considering a move to pause their recent efforts to provide the world with more crude.

The head of the International Energy Agency urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on November 24 to take measures to help bring oil prices down to “reasonable levels.”

Gold Rises As Dollar Weakens

Gold edged higher on Thursday, though the upside remained capped by expectations that the Federal Reserve could accelerate stimulus tapering.

Spot gold edged up 0.2 percent to $1,792.05 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures were up 0.4 percent at $1,791.35.

The dollar slipped from a 17-month high as traders react to strong U.S. economic data released overnight and the minutes from the Fed’s meeting held in early November.

The minutes showed members were concerned about inflation and willing to tighten policy if inflation continues to run high.

U.S. Treasuries will not trade today because of the Thanksgiving holiday. U.S. stock markets will also be closed and will have a shortened session on Friday.

In European government debt markets, German bund yields dipped slightly after Social Democrat and former finance minister Olaf Scholz struck a three-way coalition deal that will see him replace Angela Merkel at the helm of Europe’s largest economy.

U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Nearly Unchanged At Pandemic-Era Low

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits were nearly unchanged in the week ended November 13th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 268,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 269,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 260,000 from the 267,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the slight decrease and the revision to the previous week’s number, jobless claims once again hit their lowest level since the week ended March 14, 2020.

“Initial claims should continue to gradually work their way back toward pre-pandemic levels as employers facing shortages of workers will likely keep layoffs to a minimum,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also fell to a new pandemic-era low of 272,750, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 278,500.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance also slid by 129,000 to 2.080 million in the week ended November 6th, hitting the lowest level since March of 2020.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also dropped to a pandemic-era low of 2,157,250, a decrease of 100,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 2,257,250.